Historical Places, Joy and Gluttony, London Love Story

Review: Afternoon Tea at St. Paul’s Cathedral

August 6, 2015

St. Paul’s Cathedral has a little restaurant below in the Crypt that serves food, drink, snacks and a fabulous afternoon tea from 3-4.15pm Monday-Saturday. Find them at St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD.

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A St. Paul’s snap from a few months ago that I nicked from my husband. Because marriage means never having to worry about copyright.

It’s always nice when you discover that you have a new talent. The big decision though is whether to use this talent for good, or for evil. Sometimes you think you’re doing good but it turns out you are the kind of monkey who could get a dude fired.

I am of course talking about hashtagging. The wonderful Ed from LadyLovesCake.com (he doesn’t dress up in pearls and crochet shawls when he sits down to blog, he’s the Gentleman who Loves Cake…. I mean maybe he does, but he hasn’t made this information public) was wearing his professional hat as comms guy for St Paul’s Cathedral and giving a few bloggers the grand tour, topped off by some afternoon tea. He also asked us to make up a catchy hashtag for our bloggers’ afternoon. I took to the task with gusto. Turns out #EatPrayBlog is an inappropriate hashtag. #TeaWithJesus is an inappropriate hashtag. As such we won’t be mentioning those at all. #StPaulsTea however, is just the ticket.

#JesusUpSkirt is also a terrible hashtag. Don't use it.

#JesusUpSkirt is also a terrible hashtag. Don’t use it.

This is Queen Anne. She did not say "Let them eat cake" but I'm pretty sure her approach to cake was fairly casual. More like "Go ahead and eat cake if you want, but if you prefer the scones and finger sandwiches that's cool too."

This is Queen Anne. She did not say “Let them eat cake” but I’m pretty sure her approach to cake was fairly casual. More like “Go ahead and eat cake if you want, but if you prefer the scones and finger sandwiches that’s cool too.”

We arrived on one of those hot, sunny, sweaty afternoons ready to explore. I was joined by six fabulous bloggers: Sophie, Katy, Alexandra, Jaime, Rebecca and Angela and to begin with we headed downstairs to visit Wellington and Nelson, who were spending the day lying around in their crypts.

Lots of half melted statues adorn the hallways down there, all that was left from the original St. Paul’s Cathedral that burnt to a crisp in the Great Fire of London. It’s kind of a good thing that it did, because it gave our man Christopher Wren a big patch of empty land to style his own Anglican fabulous cathedral. He started with a model of the cathedral, which is still housed in a room upstairs. We visited, of course, and found out that the word ‘model’ is slightly misleading. Not exactly small, this replica was big enough for King Charles II to crawl around inside. Frankly, if I were King I’d be forcing the word’s best architects to build me enormous doll houses to crawl around in too, so no shade there.

Christopher's model cathedral

Christopher’s model cathedral

When you know the Cathedral is prepared for your hashtagging to get a little out of control. Even the statues stared at me disapprovingly...

When you know the Cathedral is prepared for your hashtagging to get a little out of control. Even the statues stared at me disapprovingly…

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Unfortunately we weren’t allowed into the Cathedral’s library without librarian supervision, but we did peak through the keyhole and IT WAS MAGICAL. Old dusty books, globes and all manner of creepy quintessential English shizz, we were all trying to just sniff it through the keyhole and soak up as much atmosphere as possible.

We moved on to a rather fabulous spiral stairway that caused a number of our squadron to simultaneously cream themselves. Apparently it’s a Harry Potter stairway. I wasn’t game enough to admit this at the time, but I haven’t read the books, I haven’t seen the films and I’m no hurry to do either. #sorrynotsorry

As we shimmied back through the main part of the cathedral, down the aisle, pretending to be Princess Di, we realised now was as good a time as any to stop for tea. Quite the beautiful spread was laid before us in the restaurant housed in the crypt:

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Finger sandwiches on granary, brown and white breads to include; smoked salmon, free range egg and cress, cucumber and cream cheese, Yorkshire ham and English mustard. I began with the sandwiches as it’s traditional and my least favourite part of the afternoon tea experience. I skipped the egg and the salmon sandwich as I don’t care for those things, but the other two were lovely. This also meant I had plenty of room left for CAKE.

We were served a very light English tea in tiny little floral cups, along with a glass of English sparkling wine and russet apple juice. Both exquisite. The freshly baked fruit and traditional scones with Cornish clotted cream and the head chef’s homemade rhubarb jam also slipped down easily, before moving on to the main event.The-Mayfairy-St-Pauls-Cathedral-Afternoon-tea-Sq2

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Sophie-Tea

The only way to eat a chocolate delice: in one go. Method patented by Sophie.

The cakes, oh wow, the sweets were everything. Lemon meringue pie (fabulous), chocolate delice (gooey and enchanting), rhubarb and ginger cheesecake (get in my belly) and cherry bakewell Battenberg (I will always love you) these little friends will always hold a place in my heart. We even received a little goody bag to take away.

Full, happy and delirious with sugar, we headed over to the downstairs chapel for a little poke around before the Evensong service. Lots more famous friends are buried down here, so we said hello and admired the chapel.

Meet my famous friends: Mr Sullivan, famous for entertaining us all with his friend Mr Gilbert; Alexander Fleming who told bacteria to sod right off with the cunning use of Penicillin; Mr Turner, who was England's premier painter of blurry shizz and Sophie, who is available for all your chapel based speaking engagements and looks great at a lectern.

Meet my famous friends:
Mr Arthur Sullivan, famous for entertaining us all with his friend Mr Gilbert; Alexander Fleming who told bacteria to sod right off with the cunning use of Penicillin; Mr Turner, who was England’s premier painter of blurry shizz and Sophie Loves Food, who is available for all your chapel based speaking engagements and looks great at a lectern.

Then we attended Evensong, in specially reserved seats right beside the choir. It was utterly beautiful, and I am not a religious person. The choir (comprised mostly of young boys) really gave it their all, probably because they were just a day away from heading off on summer holiday and really excited to belt out the tunes.

After this there was only one way to go: up into the dome. Now, I’m not as great with heights as I used to be. Being up in the dome looking down into the church definitely gave me the heebie jeebies, but for some reason I was much better climbing up outside the dome looking out around London.

That was until Alexandra accidentally dropped a lens cap from the roof and said “Oops”. Seriously, “oops” is not a word you want to hear when traipsing about the sky on a teeny tiny platform.

The most terrifying thing however, is the tiny, little window right at the top of the dome, that allows you to peer straight down to the floor of the cathedral hundreds of thousands of feet below. If this doesn’t turn your knees to jelly then maybe you just don’t have dessert based joints. Unlucky for some.

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Terrifying signs and windows. Heed the warnings!

Terrifying signs and windows. Heed the warnings!

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The view from the top. See, I'm not scared at all...

The view from the top. See, I’m not scared at all… (And my eyebrows totally aren’t wilting :/)

Graffiti in the dome. These folks from the 1700s want you to know they were here.

Graffiti in the dome. These folks from the 1700s want you to know they were here.

In all seriousness, I want to say that a day out at St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the best day’s out you can have in London, even for those who aren’t religious. It’s beautiful. It’s full of religious history, art history, regular history and even cake. The services are wonderful, the graves, tombs and memorials are magnificent and it offers one of the best views of London money can buy. Not to mention the work out you get traipsing up all those stairs to get to the top.

Please go, and please tell them when you go that you’re there because Ed the comms guy is fabulous, and not because of all the dodgy hashtagging. Well, maybe a little bit because of all the dodgy hastagging, because learning about history should be fun and it should be engaging. If dodgy hashtagging is how I share that passion, then that’s how it has to be.

When you're naked but the cats want all of the affection and you're paranoid that if you don't give it to them they'll start kneading you...

When you’re naked but the cats want all of the affection and you’re paranoid that if you don’t give it to them they’ll start kneading you…

When you hear that darn Mayfairy is touring the Cathedral with her dodgy hashtags and she's coming your way

When you hear that darn Mayfairy is touring the Cathedral with her dodgy hashtags and she’s coming your way…

When you're bundling the wheat and your jam comes on...

When you’re bundling the wheat and your jam comes on…

When you've just left afternoon tea but you couldn't quite manage that last scone and you're wondering if you should go back for it...

When you’ve just left afternoon tea but you couldn’t quite manage that last scone and you’re wondering if you should go back for it…

My afternoon tea and behind the scenes tour was free of charge for blogging purposes, but I really, really love St. Pauls and think you should to. Book your tickets here. And remember to have afternoon tea, too. The chef’s a bit of a stunner.

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  • Hahahahah oh holy wow, chocolate delice!!

  • adales8

    Best view for tea ever! x

    • All that stair climbing is a great way to work off a scone (or four)

  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    Lovely photo of you Frankie – I rarely see one that isn’t a cartoon πŸ˜€ Also, you should totally be a professional afternoon tea photographer as those snaps are gorgeous. What a lovely and traditional English day out – I’ve never been to St Pauls – in fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it from anything closer than a vantage point but I love the idea of this for a special London day out! The only thing that would have made this better is if the Tea with Jesus had taken off πŸ˜€

    • So hard with the foodie lens I keep on my camera to take one that doesn’t make your face look like a dinner plate πŸ˜‰ You should totally go to St Pauls, it’s stunning. Even if Jesus doesn’t show up for tea. x

  • You’re on a GIF role. #EatPrayBlog is an appropriate hashtag, boycott anyone who tells you otherwise.

    • That’s what I thought! (and I bloody love a GIF)

  • Gulp, Gulp, Gulp all that tea and food looks YUM <3 πŸ˜€ I love St Pauls, been there, something about that Cathedral is so magical πŸ˜€

    Serene | I Am Serene L

  • Literally loving inappropriate hashtags, there should be one for every occasion!
    Lots of love,
    Angie
    SilverSpoon London

  • So I am really like the #teawithjesus one and kinda makes me wish I was back in my Catholic school days so I could use it all the time!

    • Such a good hashtag. I feel Jesus would approve…

  • Favorite part of this post are the captions for the photos at the end. Those folks were so ahead of their time… who knew? I’d probably pass out on the trek to the top of the dome since I’m not so much “out of shape” as completely amorphous, but the views look fantastic. I think I might just bug the librarian to let me into the library so I could nerd it up for a little while instead; it sounds like the stuff of dreams.

  • Loving those hashtags Frankie! I never knew there was a library in St Paul’s Cathedral

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

  • I really love St. Paul’s such breathtaking architecture not sure I would have enjoyed the height but I am sure with afternoon tea in stomach I could be convinced. Loving the hashtags and beautiful cups and plates Lucy x

    • It’s fine once it’s done. That inner dome is a little bit freaky but it’s all worth it! x

  • I think Jesus would approve for shiz.

    • Jesus was a pretty easy going guy. I don’t see why not 😝

  • Haha those hashtags are priceless. How iconic, afternoon tea in St Paul’s darlin’ xx

    Zoe | Love and Limoncello

    • Such a beautiful place and a beautiful day 😁

  • I am loving your hashtags!! Also loving the bit at the beginning about marriage meaning not having to worry about copyright, that’s my only reason for wanting marriage at some point…

    This looks so very fancy and delicious. I should probably get my butt down there!!

    captaincharghley.blogspot.com

    • Yeah, it’s a nice perk to offset all the hassle of organising a wedding πŸ˜‚

  • Beautiful photos as always! I do love St Paul’s, there’s something so magical about it. Evensong is one of my favourite services, the singing always really gets to me.

    C x | Lux Life

    • It was a lovely service. Thanks for reading x

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